Hardik Patel relents, ends his fast on day 19

Patidar leader Hardik Patel | PTI

Pro-quota leader Hardik Patel on Wednesday ended his indefinite hunger strike even as none of the demands put forward by him have been met by the Gujarat government.

Hardik Patel, who began his agitation on August 25, has been demanding loan waiver for farmers, reservation for Patidars in jobs and education and release of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti member Alpesh Kathiria. Kathiria was arrested on sedition charges two years ago.

All that Hardik Patel needed was an assurance by heads of socio-religious organisations of the Patidars that they would put up the demands before the state government. He accepted lemon juice from C.K. Patel, leader of one of the Patidar organisations, and Naresh Patel, chairman of Khodaldham, a socio-religious organisation of the Patidars.

Hardik Patel ending the fast is a victory of sorts for the BJP, at least at this stage. The state government had earlier denied permission to hold the agitation in Nikol, Ahmedabad or Gandhinagar.

Interestingly, C.K. Patel had earlier said he would not act as a mediator between the state government and PAAS unless he gets an assurance in writing from the Patidar forum.

For Hardik Patel, who was admitted to the hospital for two days during the fast and was given fluids, ending the fast is a step back as he had initially claimed that he would not end the fast until his demands are met.

After breaking the fast, the Patidar leader said that he had not bowed down before the government but had respected the wishes of the “elders” of the community. “It means that now I have the blessings of the elders with me and I do not need to fear anyone,” Patel said, adding that now he was aiming at a public revolution against the BJP government. He said Patidar leaders told him he needed strength to fight on.

Hardik Patel said the fact that the state government has not addressed the issue of loan waiver shows that it is not concerned about farmers. He alleged that the state government was behaving like the Britishers. He further said he would travel to the villages one month and raise the issues concerning people, especially farmers.

During his 19-day fast, Hardik Patel was visited by representatives of political parties, including the TMC, AAP, Samajwadi Party and a couple of BJP leaders.

Soon after breaking the fast, he met a few police personnel posted at his residence and then headed straight to Gandhi Ashram where he signed visitors' book.

C.K. Patel and Naresh Patel said they would put up demands before the state government.